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Mobile Top Level Domain Gets ICANN Nod 198

Sushant Bhatia writes "Despite fierce criticism from Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Web, ICANN has decided to go ahead and create a new TLD (Top Level Domain) aimed at mobile phones and other mobile devices. Bizarrely the new domain will be '.mobi'. Considering that one of the chief banes of accessing the Internet from a mobile phone is the fact that keying in long Internet addresses takes time, the decision to use .mobi seem odd. A good place to keep up with the ongoings of ICANN is the ICANN Watch which reports that a TLD system has been launched in Turkey as the result of an alliance between the Turkish Informatics Association (TBD) and Unified Identity Technology (UNIDT)."
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Mobile Top Level Domain Gets ICANN Nod

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  • by modecx ( 130548 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:29PM (#13044964)
    Really--.mob would be more apt in many ways.
    • I still vote for .pad which is easy to key in on a phone. No Apt.Pad sponsor still though. :(
    • Not necessarily. If Herman Melville were alive today, he could re-write one of his most famous stories to fit the "wired world."

      I'm speaking, in case you hadn't seen it coming, of .mobi-Dick, starring the ICANN board (collectively, one costume) as the Great White (Wired) Whale.

      (Come on, you HAD to see that coming! That rotten tomato in your hand only confirms it!)

  • Strange departure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coflow ( 519578 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:30PM (#13044976)
    Why is this TLD based on the medium used to access it? In the past the TLD had more to do with the nature of the organization hosting the website.....
    • It's a location, like the country-based TLDs used by the non-US world.

      Whether it makes sense to have a mobile-location domain or not is debatable. It certainly isn't necessary, though it may be desirable. Or maybe there's some pressing need I just don't see.

      The question is, who is going to acquire the second-tier domains? Will it be mobile carriers, so that you get a hostname when you sign up for your phone/PDA service? That seems most likely.

      But why can't they use their existing domain? Maybe w

      • Wrong (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's not a location, unless you foresee a great number of mobile webservers. I live in the Netherlands, but I don't just surf the .nl web. Just because I'm using a mobile device doesn't mean I should be restricted to .mobi. My laptop can render HTML just fine. So far, TLDs reflected the type of business, second-level-domains the name of the business, and third-level-domains the service offered by the business (e.g., mail., www., etc)

        Now, all of a sudden, the device you use determines the which domain you
        • by lheal ( 86013 )
          I think maybe my post was too circumspect. All I was saying was that the rationale for having .mobi as a top-level domain was that it was analogous to other TLDs like ".nl" or ".us".

          Saying that .mobi users would have to "stay in .mobi" makes no sense. Using the DNS address as a criterion for presentation doesn't work, either - will there be no servers in .mobi? If there won't be, that's even worse.

          I agree that it's a solution to a problem I don't think exists, or at least it's swatting a fly with dyna
    • No TLD should specify the intended platform - the site serving the content should change what it serves based on the platform which is accessing it.

      XML/XHTML/CSS etc is supposed to solve this, not allow for the creation of another TLD just for mobile content!
  • .mobi (Score:2, Funny)

    Proof that ICANN is staffed by idiots.
  • by GypC ( 7592 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:31PM (#13044986) Homepage Journal
    ... for a flood of ".Mobi Dick" jokes.
    • Hmm,

      what else?

      Ohh, a "flood" of .Mobi Dick jokes, flood...water...ocean...whale

      Got it. that was pretty funny
    • > ... for a flood of ".Mobi Dick" jokes.

      Call it .mobi. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely -- having little or no clue in my head, and nothing particular to interest me at the coding keyboard, I thought I would write a few RFCs and see the committee-driven part of the Internet...

      [ ...104 Slashdot posts later... ]

      - Job.

      The meeting is done. Why then here does any new TLD step forth? -- Because one did survive the wreck.

  • Teh Trick! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ( 780570 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:32PM (#13044994)
    1. Read other news sites (fark especially), and remember the best comments for each story.
    2. Wait until the same story comes up on slashdot (2-3 days)
    3. ...?
    4. Profit!
  • Mobi huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:32PM (#13044997)
    These galls [] should apply for
  • They considered shortening it to ".mob" but the Mafia threatened a class action for TLD squatting.
    • They considered shortening it to ".mob" but the Mafia threatened a class action for TLD squatting.

      Even in the U.S. alone, there seem to be quite a few MOBI trademark registrations. Looks like using this TLD could prove indeed risky. What were they thinking when they decided to use a non-descriptive term?
      • What were they thinking when they decided to use a non-descriptive term?

        Even though this requires a tinfoil hat, I wonder... Could it simply be a passive-agressive response to pressure they don't want to endure any longer? Basically giving the T-Mobile types what they want but at the same time hamstringing the implementation such that it dissappears from relevance shortly after introduction. Or perhaps make the TLD so obtuse that the support for it wans and it never gets introduced.

        Granted it requir

  • It doesn't matter... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kryptx ( 894550 )
    It doesn't really matter what the TLD is. Internet-enabled phones will provide a way to enter it expediently.
    • It doesn't really matter what the TLD is. Internet-enabled phones will provide a way to enter it expediently.

      Yeah, there is the thing for the web called google that does the same thing.

      TLDs have simply gotten to be cash cows for those registrars out there, the sleezier the better!

      I mean, who would have thunk that going to [] would get you to Heck, I remember when you would introduce slashdot to someone and you tell them to go to and they would type http://ww []
  • It may currently be a problem to type on a cellphone, but the trend with mobile devices seem to point in the direction of the blackberry, sidekick, or palm treo. Using any of these devices, typing isn't nearly as much of a problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:33PM (#13045009)
    Considering that one of the chief banes of accessing the Internet from a mobile phone is the fact that keying in long Internet addresses takes time, the decision to use .mobi seem odd.

    This is a domain targeted specifically at phones. So it is reasonable to assume that phone manufacturers will create something that automatically fills in the .mobi instead of making you key it in.

    Of course, who knows how many of these addresses will really be optimized for phones. It probably won't take long for domain speculators and porn shops to gobble them up.
  • by aberson ( 461047 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:34PM (#13045016) Homepage
    unless there's a reason that you can't have a 1 character tld

    [not to mention that "mo" are on the same key in a cellphone, making it even more annoying to key in... but at least predictive text might pick up that you're typing "mobile"]
    • You'd think there would be some restriction against 1-letter TLDs, but I can't find anything in the RFCs. I did find RFC 1591 [], which says "it is extremely unlikely that any other TLDs will be created", besides the country-code TLDs and the generic TLDs: EDU, COM, ORG, NET, GOV, MIL, and INT. I'd imagine that due to this, there's some code out there that assumes TLDs must be exactly 2 or 3 letters long.

      Four-letter top-level domains (INFO and NAME, along with BIZ) have been around since 2001. Other new gTL

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Blindman ( 36862 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:34PM (#13045021) Journal
    Assuming I could register a .mobi address for my phone, now what? Was something like [my phone number]@[wireless provider].[net or com] too difficult? It seems like a solution looking for a problem.
    • Other way around: .mobi sites are supposed to be accessed from your phone. What you're suggesting sounds more like a way to get at your phone.

      That's actually a more useful idea, and I believe that there are a couple of proposals for such a thing (except that they'd probably omit the wireless provider and just give your phone a unique URL with a specialized TLD, and no registrar.)

      This idea is supposed to be that if you wanted to get specialized for your mobile device, you'd go to in
      • Yeah, guess it never occurred to them to goto

        All in all, seems like this is what happens when marketers get a hold of things, but on the bright side the domain registers will rake in more cash.
    • [my phone number]@[wireless provider].[net or com]

      I hate that... it means that not only do I need to know your phone number, but I need to know your cell carrier as well. It also quashes half the point of number portability -- you can take your number with you, but your email address still changes. To make matters worse, number portability means I can't determine your carrier from your number's exchange anymore. What are the odds that the carriers would get together and make a [phone number]@common-s

      • What are the odds that the carriers would get together and make a [phone number] that forwards to the various carrier mail exchangers?
        You can do the forwarding yourself by getting some e-mail address and have it forward to your phone's e-mail address. You only give out the forwarding address and change the forwarded-to address whenever your carrier or number changes.
  • OK, so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:34PM (#13045025) Homepage Journal
    OK, so, rather than either
    1. Making your site gracefully scale down for mobile devices based upon CSS, or
    2. Making your site detect the mobile's User Agent and redirecting them to a section of your site designed for mobile use, or
    3. Having a "lite" section of your site and letting the user select it.

    All of which entail nothing more than some extra sections on your existing web server, ICANN would have you have to register a second domain, and either run virtual web services on your server or run multiple servers.

    Yes, that makes sense.
    • Re:OK, so... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by generic-man ( 33649 )
      Apple wants you to buy only Apple products and services. Microsoft strongly recommends that you install only Genuine Microsoft Windows on all your computers. ICANN wants you to register a .mobi domain for mobile content. There's one reason behind all these: money.

      I expect .mobi to set the world on fire just like .museum revolutionized the way museums used the internet, or the way .name encouraged everyone to buy their real name's domain, or the way .pro encouraged "professionals" to get their name for $2
      • I know .mususeum died (did it ever launch??), and .info is just shithole (I have all .info domains blacklisted because they're a 100% reliable spam sign).

        But .name? .pro? Never even heard of them...
    • "Yes, that makes sense."

      May not make a lot of sense, but it sure makes them more money.

  • by cataBob ( 529363 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:35PM (#13045038) Homepage
    They should have went with .stupid instead.
  • Why make this a TLD? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:35PM (#13045039)

    Why should this be a top level domain? It seems like "" would work just as well as "", with the added advantages to Website operators of not having to maintain a separate domain, and to users of knowing for sure that the former is actually affiliated with the "" domain (less fake sites, phishing, etc.). So what are the advantages of the TLD approach that caused this to get approved?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So what are the advantages of the TLD approach that caused this to get approved?

      More money for ICANN.
    • So what are the advantages of the TLD approach that caused this to get approved?

      See, your problem is that you are a perfectly rational, nice-guy engineer type who has an interest in building good systems. From your standpoint, it makes exactly no sense -- it's actually a bad idea, if anything, which is why you can expect Berners-Lee to oppose it.

      The thing is that the registrars (and the ever-evil Verisign, which has taken abuse of power to a fine art) have too godamn much influence at ICANN, and every t
  • What?! (Score:2, Insightful)

    Is there any real reason they couldn't have done .M or .MOB or .MBL Or anything that didn't have Fscking 4 characters?!
  • How long until .coke and .pepsi are top level domains?

    I guess now if you want to protect your trademark, you have to buy dozens of TLDs today and perhaps hundreds tomorrow if ICANN continues its goofy trend.

    • How long until .coke and .pepsi are top level domains?
      I think that's a good suggestion. Let's do away with TLD's - .com, .net, and .org, since they are useless, and just have http://slashdot./ [slashdot.] People who want subdomains could still do so of course.
      • MOD PARENT UP!

        Joe public doesn't remember the TLD anyway. They try .com and if that fails they call their tech savvy kids and ask why the Internet is broken.

        TLDs are a bad idea.
        Why would having and going to different sites EVER be a good thing?!
        • Yes, the hierarchical DNS should be buried.
          It was broken from the day it was defined with the highest level at the right (the UK has used a more logical left-to-right system for some time but in the end it was converted to the right-to-left system crafted by the Americans).
          But the general public does not understand it. Now that the Internet is for the general public, the domain names should be restructured to what the general public expects. i.e.:

          - a flat system, upon which structure can be added as the
      • Um, sorry. That's a bad idea.

        Because our 13 root servers would then need to store every domain name in existance (NS and A records). It entirely defeats the purpose of a hierarchical database, which the Domain Name System is.

        • That doesn't matter. The hierarchical system has already been defeated long ago. Look at the size of .com
          Servers for .com are running, so similar servers for the root level should be no problem.
        • I'll bet over 80% of lookups are for .com, and most of the rest for .org. I won't even bother to look up a reference unless you think I'm wrong. The point is, the few TLD's in use are worthless precisely because their branching factor in the heirarchy is so low. They are worthless technically (for load balancing), and worthless semantically (because there's no relation between all the domains under .com).
          • I'd say .com + .net + .org (the gTLDs) are about 80% currently. However, existing ccTLDs are growing in use around the world, in addition to new ccTLDs like .EU. The gTLD namespace has somewhat stagnated.. yeah, there are a lot of new domain purchases, but there almost as many expirations/deletions.

            For future growth, the hierarchical model makes sense. As asia and europe grow in the internet market, ccTLDs (like .cn, or the IDN equivalents) will grow. Granted, semantically, the gTLDs have no use, but

      • I had the same though earlier, but came to the conclusion that it would be hard to implement. For one thing, the root DNS server would have to work even harder.

        Now they have to know everything, not just where to send stuff. It would require reworking the heirachial structure of DNS a bit.
      • As a sibling mentioned, doing away entirely with TLDs is not such a good idea.

        I talked in detail about this in a previous slashdot discussion [] about the similarly abominable .tel TLD
        • Allowing arbitrary registration of TLDs wouldn't do away with the TLDs we already have - it would add many names (such as "slashdot") without invalidating today's names (such as ""). As such, arbitrary TLD's could not increase name contention.

          Currently TLD's are already fairly useless for that purpose. Try "whois". The fight over "sex" would be no worse than the fight over "" that already happened.

          I do agree with your previous assertion that country codes are useful,

  • Ramblings (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:35PM (#13045043) Homepage Journal
    Nice. Yet another TLD without a purpose. Everybody wants the .com anyway; the rest just adds confusion. Was it .com, .net, .org, .fr, or .mobi? And yes, this does lead to real problems with real people.

    Also, what I find much more important than the TLD, when are mobiles going to be truely usable as web clients? With PDAs, the usability is pretty good, and properly built websites run on them without a problem. But with mobile phones, access is problematic. Most don't support XHTML, which means pages must be made in the WML format, which is just a complete abomination. It does away with all the meaningful structure of HTML, allegedly to make things simpler, and then adds a whole lot of complexity with its scripting language. And then most phone's HTTP implementations is horribly flaky - fragmenting the headers will cause many phones to not render the page.
  • My cell phone is an older verizon phone (don't know exactly, bought it cheap early last year) and it has a button where you can click it once, then choose 1 to add .com, 2 to add .edu, 3 to add .org. It wouldn't be too hard to add a 4 .mobi 5 .biz 6. info, and you wouldn't have to worry about it?
  • Google just won a judgement on variations of Google spelling in domain names. After a few thousand new domains get registered, watch for Moby [] to go after everyone.
  • He told the conference that when you print money, you devalue the money you already printed, and that was what was happening with increasing the number of domain names.

    Well this all because of stupidity and the commercialization of the Internet. TLDs had a purpose but that purpose now has been shifted into one thing. Create anther so people will register their name again.

    Stupid courts/and others are to blame for letting companies/groups think they have to have their name in each TLD even though that TL
  • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:42PM (#13045113)
    Despite fierce criticism from Tim Berners-Lee

    Tims Berners-Lee complains about this... Tims Berners-Lee complains about that... For the father of the web, this guy does an awful lot of complaining about it.

    Sometimes, the father needs to take his child down. I think he needs to take more extreme actions. Like domain terrorism, or something.

  • The .Mobi follows the loudest idiot
    The .mobi rules
  • by ICLKennyG ( 899257 )
    Not only did they put a 4 letter TLD - on a device where it's important to have short URLs but on most ABC phones, it would require 6- pause - 666 - 22-444 8 key presses and a pause!!!!! My suggestion, in just 3 seconds of thinking I came up with 6-7-9 MPW which would give you mobile phone web.
  • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:52PM (#13045211)
  • Why is TBL mad? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @02:56PM (#13045261) Homepage
    He says it will devalue existing domain names.

    Okay, so: What's wrong with that?

    These are mnemonics, not currencies.

    Their intent was never to be a currency. Just mnemonics.

    If you are buying up names because you think they'll be valuable later on, you're doing something dumb. The names system doesn't owe you anything. You aren't owed a profit on names.

    Let the names be plentiful.
    • Except now we have yet another TLD which will be underused by its target audience and flooded with spammers, phishers and domain squatters, leading to even greater pollution of search engine results.

    • Re:Why is TBL mad? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by normal_guy ( 676813 )
      Not devalue as in currency, devalue as in their usefulness. Further diluting the TLD pool only results in more confusion for customers and more money for registrars.
    • Congratulations, consumer, you have been brainwashed successfully.

      "Value": the quality (positive or negative) that renders something desirable or valuable is going to be less easily found if there's ten other TLDs than if there are only two.
  • by ChiralSoftware ( 743411 ) <> on Tuesday July 12, 2005 @03:10PM (#13045421) Homepage
    (Warning, company promotion here.)

    The device detection problem is a big one. Tim is right on this. URLs are how we identify sites that we want to go to, not how we identify content. There should be one URL for all content types and the site should do the right thing for the device.

    That's a complicated problem. There are about 1,000 different mobile devices currently in use. Keeping track of them, and the different types of content they need, is tough.

    Most devices can handle one of four different types of content:

    • Full HTML: desktop computers, etc
    • Mobile XHTML: newer phones
    • WML: older or mid-range phones
    • cHTML: DoCoMo i-mode phones in Japan
    Within these four basic types, there are still more questions:
    • Screen size: How big should images be
    • Image types: PNG, GIF, JPEG, or WBMP?
    • Media types: can it play videos, etc?
    • Java types: MIDP1, MIDP2, DoJa, or perhaps even J2SE?
    There's no way to make this work without some specialized software help. One tool is the free open-source WURFL []. Another tool is, of course, our own DeviceSource [] and Mobile Web Module.

    Creating another domain shifts more work to users (in the form of marketing the other URL, remembering it, using it). Users shouldn't have to do work. Tools should do work.

    Anyway, if Slashdot ever wants to get a license to our software to have a mobile Slashdot you can read on the phone, contact us:

  • Hey, people are complaining, but .mobi beats what they were considering before:

  • The appropriate means of accomodating mobile devices is the use of CSS @media handheld directive. Mobile users shouldn't have to go to a separate site.
  • by Spydr ( 90990 )
    Why this is bad has been covered before...

    Tim Berners-Lee talked about it [] over a year ago, and many other people have covered the reasons why it's bad.

    The main reason being that creating top level domain names for specific devices is dumb. Cell phones / mobile devices may be hot shit right now, but what happens in 10 years when every device we own had access to the web... will we get a .toaster tld? what about .fridge or .car?

    User agents have content negotiation and identify themselves for a reason. that
  • When will it end for us to keep adding stupid top-level domains without any form of objective thinking (i.e.: do people REALLY think that .xxx will block pornography for kids and that all pornography will move to the .xxx domain?). I think there's a lot of politics and money involved in all this and little common sense.

    I think a more productive thing might be for we to get rid of top-level domain names altogether and to allow spaces in names, so that we could go to websites by typing things like:
    • Small correction in my post above:

      should really be

    • Let the voting begin!

      1. Root should get rid of TLDs and host every name directly: YES
      2. Allow whitespace in names: HELL NO!
      3. Allow non-ascii chars in names (IDN): NO


      1. Since .com is capable of handling millions of names without problems, there's no reason root shouldn't be too. The earlier technical limitation is no longer the problem it used to be.
      2. Spaces in file names and domain names are EVIL, for reasons too numerous to explain here.
      3. Non-ASCII (>127) chars in domain names are evil too; because th
  • Even more than previous bizarre new TLDs, this one is all about money. The idea is that companies with successful .com addresses will need to buy .mobi domains in order hedge against encroachment. Whether you already have a mobile-capable website or not, you'll want to grab the domain to protect your existing brand marketing in the .com address. If you have a mobile-capable website you may put up an alternate home page for mobile-only at the .mobi webroot, but there's no reason to maintain two separate site
  • This is just another twist at the Telecommunication companies' way to squeeze just a little more money out of people.

    Look, all phones would soon read normal html like any other web-browser (e.g. look at Opera's reader for mobile phones).

    There's absolutely NO REASON why this mobile-domain should be created.

  • If it's used enough, a mobile phone could have a ".mobi" button.
  • You can always use Shortify to access websites from a mobile phone. It's like TinyURL, but the part after the slash is entirely numeric.

    More importantly, you can access Shortify by typing the address out using the numbers on your phone.

    From a PC: []

    From a Phone: []
    (SHORTIFY on the number pad)

    Examples: []
    (Yahoo! Mobile) []
    (Slashdot Mobile)

    It's not an ideal solution, but it's considerably easier than typing out the full U
  • ICANN is suffering from learning disability. Their last offers - .name, .biz, .info, .pro, etc. - were... uh... let's say "not exactly very successful".

    Now they do more of the same, as if it would make a difference, which it won't. But it's a typical sign of an institution going downhill if it can't adapt anymore and doesn't learn from past mistakes.

    My bet: Five years from now, ICANN will be either gone, or so unimportant that it could just as well go away because nobody would notice anyways.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard